- Excellent Wi-Fi range
- Versatile and powerful
- Easy to set up
- Not as fast as some mesh systems
- Wired backhaul not yet supported
- Review Price: £380/$502
- AC2200 Wi-Fi (400+867+867Mbps)
- MIMO technology
- Three-node mesh Wi-Fi system
- Two Gigabit Ethernet ports per node
- 7 x internal aerials
What is the Asus Lyra?
The Lyra is Asus’ first foray into the world of mesh routers. This whole-home Wi-Fi system includes three separate units that work together to provide a fast and reliable Wi-Fi signal throughout your home.
One of the more powerful and versatile systems available, it rivals the likes of the Linksys Velop, with each node of the system sporting a speedy tri-band AC2200 router. Each also includes a couple of Ethernet ports for wired connections, and the whole system is easy to set up using a mobile app.
Asus may not be as much of a household name as Google or Netgear, but the Lyra is well worth a look.
Design and features
This is a pricey bit of kit, so one expects to get the full premium product experience – and on the whole, the Lyra delivers. The units themselves are relatively attractive, featuring a matte white housing. The patterned top, revealed by the internal light, isn’t completely convincing (Asus was clearly going for a ‘mesh’ honecomb aesthetic for a visual pun). But you can at least switch the light off, which is handy.
They sit sturdily on a flat surface – unlike the tall, narrow Linksys Velop units – plus they can be wall-mounted with a couple of screws. This means you could have them affixed to a ceiling, for instance, making for easy cabling and an ideal location to provide good coverage.
Each unit includes two gigabit Ethernet ports. One port on your base unit will need to be plugged into your existing modem or router for a connection to the internet.
From there, all the other ports on the rest 0f the units provide a wired point of access to your network. This means you can hook up a desktop PC with Ethernet or an older TV to one of the units without having to retroactively fit Wi-Fi hardware.
There should be a third possible use for these ports, which is wired backhaul for faster speeds. However, it’s not present and there’s no sign of it appearing. The Netgear Orbi supports this, giving it the upper hand.
In terms of other physical features, there are just two more on each unit. There’s a pairing button on the side that can be used to quickly add a new node to the network, and a reset button on the underside.
Everything else key to making this Wi-Fi system work is on the inside. Each unit has a tri-band AC2200 (400+867+867Mbps) Wi-Fi system with seven internal aerials.
Despite the fact that the system consists of three units each with three Wi-Fi bands, all you ever need to worry about is one Wi-Fi signal – that’s the beauty of these mesh router systems.
On the downside, what the Asus Lyra and other mesh systems tend not to have is much in the way of extra features. Looking for the USB sharing and manual network management of a traditional router? Then you’ll have to stick to a conventional router.
You can always use the Lyra with an existing router, but if you replace your old router then it’s something to be aware of.
Setup and interface
Setup of the Asus Lyra is via a mobile app, as is always the case with most of these mesh router systems. Crucially, though, where some of these apps can feel a bit too restrictive and hand-holding – plus they often require you to sign up to an account – the Lyra app is simple, powerful and requires no signup.
Instead, it offers clear and simple instructions on how to set up each node and get your new Wi-Fi system up and running. It does suffer from a few more lost-in-translation moments than you’d hope for from such an established brand, but even with the odd bit of broken English it’s still easy to work out what you need to do.
Once set up, the app offers a fairly basic but adequate set of options. You can rename the network SSID, add other nodes, create a guest network and set up different levels of access for different devices – ideal for restricting internet access for children’s tablets and laptops, for example.
The Asus Lyra has one of most powerful Wi-Fi hardware spec sheets of any whole-home Wi-Fi system, rivalled only by the Linksys Velop. As such, I expected big things from it. Unfortunately, I was left a touch underwhelmed.
I started by testing the peak speed of an individual node, placing a laptop a couple of metres away from it and testing its Wi-Fi throughput. Here, the Lyra held up reasonably well. With a maximum speed of 430.4Mbps, it’s within touching distance of most competitors.
However, as I moved further away, the Lyra dropped back considerably. Setting up one node of the Lyra system on the ground floor of a three-storey house, I tested throughput from three locations: one on the middle floor (test 1) and two on the top floor (test 2 and test 3).
Here, the Lyra did manage to beat the likes of the Google WiFi and BT Whole Home – but it trailed far behind the Netgear Orbi and Linksys Velop.
Adding a second Lyra node on the middle floor, the Lyra system saw a nice increase in speed in all the tests, jumping up from 39Mbps with one node to 188Mbps with two nodes in the third test location. It also continued to outpace most other mesh systems. However, the Netgear Orbi and Linksys Velop still maintained a comfortable lead.
Finally, adding in the third node on the top floor, speeds didn’t increase any further – often the case when such mesh systems are daisy-chained together in this manner – but neither did they drop significantly. In contrast, the Linksys Velop dropped to about the same speed as the Lyra once the third node had been added.
This goes to prove that these systems are best set up where the first node that’s acting as the router is placed as centrally as possible. This isn’t always possible, though.
Moreover, for the sort of three-storey home as used in our tests, two nodes are sufficient anyway. Instead, three-node systems are more suited to wider, more spread-out homes – or, if you want to place the third node towards the back of the house (for better coverage in the conservatory or garden) or in a garage.
Why buy the Asus Lyra?
The Asus Lyra is a powerful, versatile and competitively priced whole-home Wi-Fi system. If you have a large house and want a reliable, easy-to-setup and speedy Wi-Fi network, it will get the job done, – and for a much lower price than its most direct rival, the Linksys Velop (when bought with three nodes).
It can’t quite offer the speed of the Velop, however, and it’s a shame it lacks wired backhaul. Otherwise, its high price is largely justified, since it beats most other mesh network systems for speed and features. If anything, it’s a shame Asus doesn’t offer the Lyra in a two-node pack, as this would really highlight the value of it compared to something like Google WiFi.
As ever with mesh network systems, if you’re upgrading from a high-end conventional router then you’ll be disappointed by the lack of features such as USB sharing – but you can always use the Lyra with an existing router instead.
Considering its hardware specs, the Asus Lyra isn’t quite as fast as you might hope. However, it remains a reasonably fast, feature-rich and competitively priced mesh router system.